A RAPIST who attacked two women after nights out has been sentenced to 18 years.

Burnley Crown Court heard 28-year-old Thomas Nichols raped one of the women as she slept and a second after luring her back to his shed.

Judge Sara Dodd told Nichols he was a “controlling and manipulative” predator who deliberately targeted and raped vulnerable and drunk women.

She jailed Nichols to 13 years' custody with an extended licence period of five years.

She said: “The arrogance you displayed throughout the trial is extremely concerning. You have no insight into your offending, nor the consequences caused by your offending.Until you do you remain a danger to women.”

Trial rosecutor Anya Horwood told the court how Nichols invited his first victim and her friend to a non-existent party in his shed. All three then went back to the victim’s house, and after falling asleep on the sofa she awoke to find her trousers had been removed and Nichols was raping her.

The jury was told Nichols had been told by the victim she had a boyfriend and had no sexual interest in the defendant.

When arrested Nichols told police the sex had been consensual.

The court heard Nichols met his second victim at the ibar in Accrington. After luring her back to his shed Nichols, of Belfield Road, Accrington, raped her. When Nichols was arrested he claimed sex had been consensual.

A jury took just under four hours to unanimously find him guilty of two offences of rape.

Jon Close, prosecutor at the sentencing, said both victims had separately seen the defendant in Accrington town centre while he was on bail awaiting trial following the rapes, which only added to their ordeal.

Outlining the impact of the offence on the second victim, who took an overdose of pills in June, Mr Close said: “She states the first few days after the offence were a blur. She was barely functioning. She didn’t leave the house.

“When she did sleep there were nightmares. She felt she couldn’t cope. She describes the incident as having completely broken her.”

Referring to the first victim, Mr Close said: “She describes the impact as more emotions than physical. It caused problems with her relationship which in turn came to an end.”

Defending, Andrew Scott said his client was continuing to proclaim his innocence.

He said: “The defendant accepts there is little by way of mitigation I am able to positively advance.”